An updated North Carolina Dental Opioid Action Plan was released this week by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The document is the result of a collaborative effort between public health officials, dental specialists, and a variety of state and local partners.

NCDHHS Deputy Secretary Mark Benton released a statement noting that many people first encounter opioids when they are prescribed as pain relief following common procedures such as wisdom tooth removal.

Benton says the plan provides dentists with “actionable steps” to lessen the impact of opioid misuse.

Those steps include emphasizing safer pain management, raising public awareness of preventative measures, and expanding access to treatment and recovery options.

Officials say opioids should only be prescribed for a short period of time, and that leftover pills should be turned in to drug takeback programs, and not shared with family and friends.

The state’s Dental Opioid Action Plan is designed to align with its overall strategic plan addressing opioid and substance abuse.

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